By Paul Teetor
Most Angelenos have no clue that a key political
post in City Hall is up for grabs -- the lucrative $178,789 job of
representing City Council District 2 in the San Fernando Valley. Yet
the outcome of the September 22 special election could determine whether the feisty Valley is represented by
a feisty civic leader -- or by an entrenched insider who mimics the
City Council, which has been jamming the Valley with high-rises
and big box stores and reducing its open space.
non-establishment, neighborhood activists are running --
all in hopes of stopping the special interest candidates Christine
Essel and Paul Krekorian, both of whom moved to the Valley solely to run for the highest paying City Council job in America.
Today, tensions broke out as the sleaze factor took another big jump,
with carpetbagger candidate Krekorian, a Burbank lawyer, at the center of it. It
turns out that a highly dubious $15,000 is being spent to praise
Krekorian -- but it's not properly labeled a campaign ad.
Now, in another troubling new twist, the legitimate Valley civic activists running for this council
seat want to know why a Catholic church is promoting special-interest types Krekorian and Essel.
Is the Catholic Church now deciding who the real candidates are in this activist hotbed of the San Fernando Valley?
CD 2 candidate Frank
Sheftel, a longtime Valley activist, discovered that a candidate
debate Friday night at St. Jane Francis De Chantal Church in Valley
Glen quietly invited only the three candidates raking in special
interest dough: Westsider and businesswoman Essel, Burbank politician Krekorian, and a third candidate, Los Angeles Unified School
Board Member Tamar Galatzan.
be surprised if some of the "Grass Roots 7" candidates running for the
CD 2 seat, including respected civic leaders Pete Sanchez, Mary Benson,
Mike McCue and Josef Essavi, crash this strange, secretive Friday night
party at the Catholic church. (And who knows what to expect from activist and candidate
Zuma Dogg, who crashes events as a matter of course?)
started when candidate Frank Sheftel got a flier inviting people to "Come meet the top
3 at the final meet and greet of the campaign. Meet Christine Essel,
Paul Krekorian and Tamar Galatzan."
Sheftel, an activist
during the Valley Secession movement who doesn't take kindly to
back-room deals, demanded to be included in the debate apparently sponsored by the Valley
Glen Neighborhood Association, as listed on the flier. But Sheftel
says he is being told it is a strictly private event not being sponsored by
the Valley Glen Neighborhood Association.
A private election debate? Then who is sponsoring it?
Why is the Catholic Church allowing only the three establishment candidates -- two of them not even from the Valley -- to be heard in Valley Glen? This is a hot local race
in which some observers believe at least one of the seven neighborhood
activists has a shot at getting enough votes next Tuesday to end up in
a December runoff.
In fact, the outcome of the race is entirely
unknown, with polls showing voter passion against establishment politicians running
extremely high across California. The Valley Glen folks who quietly set up this "debate" have absolutely no idea who the top vote-getters will be on Tuesday.
"If they hold this in a church, there is nothing to stop me from going," says Sheftel. It could be an interesting Friday night in Valley Glen.
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coverage of Council District 2 Special Election check out blogger Paul
Hatfield's candidate review from Monday night's forum at the Sherman
Oaks Neighborhood Council. And Phil Jennerjahn at MayorSam has a review of the debate last night in Sherman Oaks.